IndiGenius & Associates | Introduction to Gladue
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Introduction to Gladue

First Nations, Métis or Inuit (Indigenous) people, have special rights called “Gladue Rights”. These rights require the Judge to be informed of both the background and experiences of Indigenous people. The Judge must take this into consideration when seeking bail or sentencing.

These rights apply to all Indigenous people, whether they are First Nations, Métis or Inuit. It doesn’t matter whether an Indigenous individual has ever lived on a reserve, or whether or not they have status; if they are Indigenous these rights are automatically available to them and the court must respect them.

What are Gladue Rights?

Since 1996, the Canadian Criminal Code has required that Judges consider two things when an Indigenous person is being sentenced or considered for bail; a unique background and circumstances as an Indigenous person and find any alternatives to putting them in jail, as long as those alternatives are reasonable

Where Did These Rights Come From?

In 1996, the Supreme Court of Canada heard a case involving an Indigenous woman named Jamie Gladue, who had been sentenced to jail by a court that did not consider her Indigenous heritage and background experiences. The Supreme Court said that this was wrong, and that judges must consider an Indigenous person’s life path before sentencing them, and must consider sentences other than jail. Because of this case, these requirements are now called “Gladue Rights”.

How Do Gladue Rights Work?

Since the Gladue case, we now know that whenever an Indigenous person is likely to lose their ‘liberty’ or freedom, their Gladue Rights must be respected. If the court does not do this, the court’s decision can be appealed.

Because the rights are triggered by possible loss of liberty, this means that Gladue Rights apply to:

  • bail hearings
  • parole hearings
  • dangerous offender hearings
  • not criminally responsible hearings
  • hearings before a mental health review board

If your client is facing any of these things, Gladue Rights must be respected.